Looking back at the legacy the Resident Evil 2 remake with Stephanie Panisello, the voice of Claire Redfield.
As the season of fear comes to an end, what better way to send-off the month than to look back at a Resident Evil game. This year, we end our annual horror game series by looking back at the Resident Evil 2 remake with Stephanie Panisello.
Stephanie Panisello is a voice actress and performance capture actress who is best known for her role as Claire Redfield starting with the Resident Evil 2 remake followed by Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness and the upcoming film Resident Evil: Death Island. For this interview, we looked back at how she was first introduced to the series, a look behind the scenes, and reflected on its success following its launch back in 2019.
Being Introduced to Resident Evil
What was your introduction to Resident Evil 2 or the series overall?
It was actually Resident Evil 2 and I wasn’t allowed to play it, but I went over to a neighbor’s house who had it, and that was my very first time being introduced to the franchise. It was uncommon, at that time, to be able to choose a female character so I was really excited I could play as a girl. That was big for me.
Was this on the PlayStation, PC, or N64?
It was the N64 because that’s what our neighbor had. We were the kids on the block with a PlayStation.
Did you ever have the chance to play the original Resident Evil 2 on other other consoles (such as PlayStation, Gamecube, Dreamcast)?
No, the only one I played RE 2 on was the N64. I never got to play it on the original PlayStation. If I did, I would have been a lot better because I was used to those controllers. My fans on Twitch really want me to play the original games.
When I first got the role, I attempted to go through it on the PlayStation, but during the recording, they said, “Hey, we rather you keep it fresh“. I honestly only got through the beginning. I was getting to the police station, and I was like, “Wow, this is so much harder” — the tank controls did not make it easy.
Becoming Claire Redfield
What was the challenge of landing this role and what do you feel made you stand out from the other voice performers, because I could imagine there were a lot of performers trying to get this role?
This was a full performance capture role — body capture, facial capture, and voice. It was a very physical role. I knew coming in that if I wanted to stand out, it wasn’t just a matter of being able to perform a scene and be realistic. It was also a matter of how I moved, how I handled a weapon, and my ability to perform basic stunts and choreography. I think that’s the stuff that probably set me apart because I went the extra mile. It was a big deal to me.
I remember for one of the scenes, they said, “Okay, we just want you to come into the scene. You’re making sure that you cleared the room. There are no zombies or anything and then continue with your lines“. That’s what they said they wanted, but I decided to show them what they really wanted. So, I dive roll in and I do this whole thing clearing zombies. I do this whole action sequence and then I’m really in it. I could tell that probably was one of the reasons why it worked out so well. I think understanding how to carry a weapon and make it look realistic set me apart, too.
After three rounds of callbacks, I was a little cheeky and decided to wear a red cutoff vest, even though I didn’t know what the project was.
Looking back now, when bringing your rendition of Claire Redfield to life, what would you say was your favorite moment from the remake?
Looking back, I really loved the scene with Annette Birkin and Sherry, where I got to carry Eliza (who plays Sherry Birkin). I enjoyed that scene because it had its own challenges, we’re wearing a face cam and having to be spatially aware while I’m carrying her and we share a sentimental moment. A very memorable experience- haha.
Just bonding with Eliza was a big deal for me to establish a sisterly relationship with her. When we weren’t in a scene, we would play patty cake and we would joke around.
After Resident Evil 2
Now that the game is out and you’ve had the chance to play it, what aspect of the remake do you feel was done better than the original?
This is a hard one. Well, they figured out tank controls were a lot harder. I do think that was probably a big difference (me personally, I enjoy that). I also think just having the ability to breathe more life into scenes, to have more time to do that is a big deal. There was just more room for storytelling which I know you see with the gun shop scene and a little bit more with Marvin that we never really had before. There were extra characters there that got to have some spotlight, some light shined on them. I think that’s what was different – aside from the gameplay being easier – we got a lot more story.
I wouldn’t say it’s better than the original, there were limitations when the original was made. There was not enough room on a disc or an N64 cartridge for that much dialogue, for example.
Which aspects of the original you think did a better job when compared to the remake?
It has to do with the era because, during that time, it was one of the first horror games. It gave you this intense sense of fear and suspense. The graphics at the time made us think, Oh my gosh, this is terrifying. But when we look at it now, it doesn’t feel so terrifying. Taking into consideration when the original was made, it is truly very special and the reason why the remake is so great.
Following the success of the Resident Evil 2 remake, you have been invited to a lot of conventions. During your many guest appearances have there been any Resident Evil cosplayers that stood out to you (be it from the remake or other entries in the series)?
I always love it when the Claire Redfield cosplayers come up to my table, I have a special place in my heart for them. If we’re talking aside from Claire’s, which I’ve seen all different versions of I’ve seen male, female, classic, modern day and mashups.
If we are not talking about Claire, I really loved seeing a whole band of cosplayers who all came as different characters. I thought that was so fun. They gave me a friendship bracelet that had “Redfield” on it. There was a Jill Valentine, a Wesker, and a Leon. I loved it. I also got to see a good Nemesis and a Mr. X. It was at one of the first few Conventions that I ever did, SacAnime Winter 2020. We had a really great panel intro with Mr. X chasing after us, who was one of the cosplayers.
I haven’t seen any Lickers in person though. That is one that I really want to see. I have seen pictures of different versions of G, but I haven’t seen a Licker yet. So I’d be really interested to see if someone could create a Licker cosplay.
If you want to learn more about Stephanie Panisello and her work, be sure to check out her Twitch Channel (BecauseIClaire) or follow her on Instagram (@StephaniePanisello) for behind the scenes, upcoming conventions, and or voice acting classes she has coming up.
Did you ever play the Resident Evil 2 remake and what are your thoughts on it? Let us know in the comment section.
8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides insight into the video game community and industry of the San Francisco Bay Area.